by Jeremy Lai
The Hewlett-Packard Pavilion dv2500t is on the verge of cutting-edge notebook technology at the moment. It's one of the most popular laptops since the inception of the Santa Rosa platform, being the evident successor to the well-received dv2000t. I've been holding out to buy a Santa Rosa notebook for the new Nvidia GPUs that support DirectX 10 because integrated graphics just don't cut it for me. Even after stalking my notebook via FedEx's tracking system and agonizing over the fact that it arrived at my city's distribution center on Friday night, but knowing that I would not get the notebook until Monday morning, I was very impressed with HP's speedy build time. My notebook was ordered on June 6th and originally set to ship on June 20th, but to my surprise the big conglomerate shipped my notebook straight from Shanghai on June 15th. That made it five days early and does wonders for customer satisfaction.
The HP Pavilion dv2500t as customized:
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Reasons for Buying
The main reason for buying the dv2500t was that I needed not only a notebook to take with me to college, but also an entertainment center. The dv2500t seemed to fit my needs perfectly. It has a quality graphics card for some light to medium gaming, a TV tuner so I don't have to purchase a TV, and is a thin and light notebook that makes lugging it around campus an ease if not a pleasure. Before buying the dv2500t, I also looked at various Sony computers and the Asus C90, but determined that the dv2500t would fit my needs (and my budget) the best.
Where and How Purchased
I purchased the notebook directly from HP at www.hp.com. The website has a clean interface and I made my order in five minutes. The dv2500t isn't the cheapest notebook out there, but I think it gives you the most bang for your buck. Sure you might be able to get a better deal elsewhere if you search the internet for deals and coupons and stalk the Dell site daily, but HP has fair pricing so you won't necessarily feel buyer's remorse after buying it.
My setup from the top. (view large image)
Front of the notebook with the LED lights for on, power, CD, a wireless toggle, mic jacks, and two headphone jacks (from left to right). (view large image)
Left side of the notebook with an S-video port, VGA output, an expansion bay port 3, an Ethernet port, HDMI port, firewire port, an Expresscard slot, and a 5-card Media Reader. (view large image)
Back of the notebook. (view large image)
Right side with a DVD Burner, two USB ports, a phone jack, and the AC Adapter plug in. (view large image)
From the top with the lid closed. (view large image)
The fingerprint reader. (view large image)
The webcam and microphone at the top of the screen. (view large image)
Build and Design
The dv2500t is by far, the slickest piece of technology that I have seen in awhile. The glossy black finish matches the lacquer of even the finest grand pianos. The new Radiance imprint keeps in tone with the chicness of the notebook. This is truly luxury on a budget. Aside from the fabulous design, the build isn't so great, but that's expected from a consumer notebook. The casing is made out of plastic which feels quite sturdy. There is a slight flex in the screen when being twisted, but it doesn't feel like it's any weaker then a magnesium-alloy notebook. The most annoying thing about the notebook is that it does collect fingerprints on the lid, but they can only be seen in the right lighting so it's not that much of a big deal. It's also very easy to clean up, so unless you're meticulously clean this shouldn't be a problem for you.
The monitor itself is capped at 1280 x 800 which is a drag if you prefer higher resolutions, but I feel that anything bigger on a 14.1 inch would strain the eyes too much. I love the glossy Brightview Screen though. Even with the lighting turned to the lowest setting, it still is a pleasure to view. From watching DVDs, to gaming, or even browsing the internet, the Brightview really does make everything more enjoyable due to its easiness on the eyes.
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For notebook speakers, HP's incorporation of Altec Lansing branded hardware seems like a match made in heaven. I have yet to hear any distortion in the sound even with the volume maxed. The only problem that I have with them is their placement. The speakers are at the top of the notebook and that's fine you're doing something with the screen open, but say you want to listen to some music and keep the screen closed, the sound gets slightly muffled.
From some moderate skype use, the webcam and dual microphones appear to work flawlessly. My friends can see my various facial expressions vividly and with minimal lag. The webcam displays a decent resolution at 640 X 480 and there was no hassle in setting it up. The microphones work more or less the same way. Although I prefer to use a headset, the microphones were acceptable when I was too lazy to go find my headset during an intense game of Battlefield 2.
The fingerprint reader on the other hand is somewhat bothersome. It's placed awkwardly in the bottom right of the notebook so when you're typing, the right hand's palm sometimes sets it off into an array of beeping noises that tell the user that the fingerprint doesn't match and it needs to rescan. There is a bit of a learning curve to swiping your finger correctly. After practicing for about 10 minutes I was able to get several correct scans to log into my notebook. The software that comes bundled with the fingerprint reader is very user-friendly. I had my fingers registered and my notebook secured within moments of turning on the software. To sum it up, the fingerprint reader is more like a novelty rather than a security tool. The average consumer doesn't need this level of security and would be much better off just typing the password in which case is much quicker. After using the fingerprint reader for awhile, I removed my log-in information from its applications portion and just reverted back to Firefox's cookies. I do however still use it to log in to Windows.
The processor, the T7300, is a member of the Intel Centrino Duo family and also known as the Santa Rosa chip. Intel's new update on the Santa Rosa, a change from the previous Core 2 Duo family, was to have extended battery life, support for a new chipset, and better management of both cores. Intel promised to deliver a powerful new generation of CPUs with the Centrino Duos and they have met that promise in my opinion. Even with the bloatware included with the dv2500t, there has been no lag. Everything is amazingly fast and the only I have faced anything resembling lag was when my palm accidentally rested on the enter key and I opened 53 iterations of Firefox.
Super Pi Comparison Results:
|HP dv2500t (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300)||58s|
|HP dv2000t (1.83GHz Core Duo)||1m 22s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300)||59s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo T7200)||1m 03s|
|Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T5300)||1m 24s|
|Toshiba Satellite A205 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo)||1m 34s|
|HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52)||2m 05s|
|HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T2400)||59s|
|Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo)||1m 02s|
|Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo)||1m 29s|
|HP dv5000z (2.0GHz Sempron 3300+)||2m 02s|
Heat and Noise
I havn't really noticed any noise coming from the laptop that bothers me so far. I can barely even hear the whirring of the fans. Heat on the other hand is an issue. Since the hard drive is located in the bottom left area of the notebook chassis, your left palm can feel the heat coming off the spinning device. Also, after an extended period of use, the TV Tuner express card comes out dangerously hot.
The battery life of the 12 cell is more or less what I expected. With high performance on and brightness maxed I get on average four hours and 30 minutes to five hours of battery life and if everything is lowered with wireless off, I get roughly 5:30 to 6 hours.
Nvidia 8400M GS
One word. Brilliant. I couldn't have expected the GPU to work any better. I'm playing some of my favorite games at near max settings such as Battlefield 2, Granado Espada, Counterstrike Source, and Company of Heroes. Below, you'll find screenshots of these games, because a picture is much better then me blabbering about how great it is. Counterstrike: Source didn't turn out so well with settings on max so I changed it to 2x AA and 2x AF for much better performance. Likewise, Company of Heroes is playable on high settings if you don't mind low frame rates, but changing the settings to medium provided much higher frame rates.
First off, Battlefield 2! (view large image)
Next, Granado Espada! (view large image)
Counterstrike: Source (view large image)
Company of Heroes (view large image)
I prefer a much more practical approach to benchmarking games such as testing settings and actually playing it, but some people are 3DMarks fans so I have provided my results in 3DMark06 below.
|HP dv2500t (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300, nVidia 8400M GS 319MB)||1,077 3DMarks|
|HP dv2500t (1.80GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel X3100 Graphics)||541 3DMarks|
|Samsung R20 (1.73GHz T2250 and ATI 1250M chipset / GPU)||476 3DMarks|
|Samsung Q35 (1.83GHz Core 2 Duo T5600, Intel 945GM)||106 3DMarks|
|Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB)||1,831 3DMarks|
|Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256MB)||2,144 3DMarks|
|Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB)||1,819 3DMarks|
|HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)||827 3DMarks|
|Sony VAIO SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)||794 3DMarks|
HP TV Tuner
The Digital/Analog tuner comes with an assortment of accessories, including an antenna, a full-sized remote, USB remote receiver, a coaxial cable, and a composite/S-video cable. I have only tested the antennae to receive digital cable signals since I don't have cable in my home.
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After a quick install of the drivers located on the included CD I was able to begin watching TV on my dv2500t. The Quickplay program does a scan for the local channels and soon there is an array to pick from. I immediately go for anything that has HD in its name. TV runs very smoothly on the dv2500t and there's only a slight lag when I'm going to a new channel that I have never loaded. Recording is easy to learn, but it's a hassle without a TV guide. There's a schedule located within Quickplay, but you have to look at the schedule, remember what you want, and then back out to the menu to go to the recording portion of Quickplay and input the channel and times you wish to record. Recorded TV shows are in MPEG format and take up an immense amount of space because they're uncompressed.
Below are three screenshots I took with my TV Tuner's remote.
The Unit on CBS. (view large image)
House M.D. on Fox. (view large image)
According to Jim on ABC. (view large image)
The HP dv2500t is a great notebook, but it's not the best. It fits its description, thin-and-light, so don't expect it to replace a powerful desktop computer. I'd recommend it to anyone who's looking for entertainment on the go, and easy on the arms.
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